An additional reason to leave the cell phone outside the lab
Some students of Microbiology might think I’m being a bit alarmist with my warnings of the dangers about bringing cell phones into the BIO230 lab. This news alert from The Atlantic should give you even more pause against bringing your phone into contact with infectious agents. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is one of those horrific diseases out of a movie: the patient rapidly begins to bleed out, and usually dies within a few days. There is no cure. The disease is considered endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, however human cases are not common, with outbreaks affecting a dozen or two individuals at a time. Transmission appears to be via infected bats, who pass it on to other mammals including humans. Outbreaks tend to be relatively limited, in part due to the awful nature of the disease: it tends to “burn out” by running out of victims.
There is a current outbreak in Uganda, with 36 people who have been infected there to date in 2012. The disease has had a 70% mortality rate during this outbreak, and appears to be ongoing. The Atlantic article above reports that a patient (who has since died of the disease) reported that his cell phone was missing on August 14th. Hospital security then traced the alleged thief, and have turned up a suspect who turned himself in to the hospital showing clinical signs of Ebola infection. It is not clear whether or not the suspect caught the disease from a phone, or by merely being in an isolation ward of contagious patients, however both scenarios are possible at this point.
BONUS: In order to get the conversation started, list some instance of a horrific disease (real or imaginary, but “real” is preferred!) from popular media. A comment in the thread below will result in changing any 1 quiz grade to a “5″. Please note that all submissions below must be unique, so please read other comments.
BONUS: All done, Fall Break is imminent!